South America: Estudiantes and LDU grab the honours
The title race was settled in Argentina this weekend whilst the first stage in Ecuador’s top league also came to a conclusion. As it turned out two of South America’s most successful teams on the continent in recent years, Estudiantes de La Plata and LDU Quito, went on to add silverware to their domestic honours board.
In Argentina the title race went down to the final day and it was a two-horse race between two of the country’s top clubs, Estudiantes and Velez Sarsfield. Four-times champions of Argentina and South America, Estudiantes were in the ascendancy going into the final round of matches as they had a two point lead over Velez. This meant that Velez needed a win and hope for an Estudiantes defeat to claim the title outright or a draw to take the season into a championship play-off fixture. At half-time the omens were looking good for Velez as Juan Manuel Martinez’s 23rd minute goal had them leading their tie away at Racing Club whilst Estudiantes were drawing 0-0 at home in La Plata against Arsenal de Sarandi.
In the second half things got better for Velez as Maximiliano Moralez doubled their lead in the 57th minute leaving most of the fans in the stadium listening to their radios for the latest news coming from La Plata. For Velez fans, however, the title dream would be over in the final twenty minutes of the season as Rodrigo Lopez bagged a brace for Estudiantes which would guarantee them their fifth Argentine championship, their first for four years. The La Plata giants won with 45 points from 19 games, two more than Velez who will rue the two points dropped in the goalless draw against, ironically, Estudiantes’ local rivals Gimnasia Y Esgrima de La Plata on Matchday 14 as the difference between success and failure.
In Ecuador the country’s most successful club Emelec were hoping to defeat the continental powerhouses of LDU Quito in the championship 1st stage final which was played over two legs this week. In the first leg last Sunday LDU won their home tie 2-0 with a double strike from Miller Bolanaos with his second goal in the 92nd minute of the match ultimately proving crucial. Yesterday Emelec won the return fixture with a David Quiroz goal on the hour mark but the 1-0 win proved not enough with LDU prevailing 2-1 on aggregate.